03 Nov 2020

England lockdown: What counts as an 'essential' retailer?

January 2021: Read the latest advice here

Ahead of the one-month lockdown in England starting on Thursday, Bira has received the official list of the retailers allowed to remain open.

From 00.01 on Thursday, November 5, 2020, England will be on its second national lockdown to curb the rising number of coronavirus cases. This includes the closure of all non-essential retail.

Bira can confirm the following businesses will still be allowed to open:

  • Food retailers, including food markets, supermarkets, convenience stores and corner shops
  • Off licenses and licensed shops selling alcohol (including breweries)
  • Pharmacies (including non-dispensing pharmacies) and chemists
  • Newsagents
  • Hardware stores
  • Building merchants, and building services
  • Petrol stations
  • Car repair and MOT services
  • Bicycle shops
  • Taxi or vehicle hire businesses
  • The following businesses— (a) banks; 32 (b) building societies; (c) credit unions; (d) short term loan providers; (e) savings clubs; (f) cash points; (g) undertakings which by way of business operate currency exchange offices, transmit money (or any representation of money) by any means or cash cheques which are made payable to customers
  • Post offices
  • Funeral directors
  • Laundrettes and dry cleaners
  • Dental services, opticians, audiology services, chiropody, chiropractors, osteopaths and other medical or health services, including services relating to mental health
  • Veterinary surgeons and pet shops
  • Agricultural supplies shop
  • Storage and distribution facilities, including delivery drop off or collection points, where the facilities are in the premises of a business included in this list
  • Car parks
  • Public toilets
  • Garden centres

The list is similar to the one from the last lockdown, although now includes garden centres. If you are not on this list, you can still offer click and collect. Find out more here

Andrew Goodacre, Bira's CEO, said: "As you will see, homeware stores are not classed as essential – this is exactly the same as last March when the first lockdown started.

"We appreciate that  some business sell homeware and hardware and to stay open we believe you need to be clear that hardware is a 'reasonable' percentage of your total sales. We cannot define 'reasonable', and this is our interpretation of the rules. If in doubt, I would urge you to check with your local authority as it is the local authority who will be monitoring adherence to the regulations. In many ways, if you were closed in March, you will need to have changed your business to be able to remain open in November."

He added: "The defining of retail as essential and non-essential is disappointing, and in our view not necessary. Retailing and shopping has never been safer and there is no scientific evidence linking retailing with the spreading of this virus.

"In many ways it might be argued that keeping all shops open disperses shoppers, whereas now people will crowded into supermarkets. We have made this point to the Government, together with the reality of the financial impact on our businesses.

"We will continue to provide all the information we can to you."

January 2021: Read the latest advice here

Additional Guidance and Resources